In this series we have been talking all about set-apart communities, what they are, why are they so very important, and why Elohim effectively expect us all to live in set-apart community and to partake of the activities of a set-apart-community. We will talk about that in a moment. But one of the things that we have seen is that when human beings live in community, there is a definite need for order and the application of Elohim’s laws. So Yeshua gives us a specific process for this called the Matthew 18 Process. And so we are taking a look to see how the Matthew 18 Process is utilized, specifically in cases of adultery.
Well, just to review some of the things, we have seen so far that just as the physical or the nuclear family is considered to be the basic building block of secular society, so are set-apart communities considered to be the basic building blocks of Elohim’s Kingdom. So by living in set-apart communities, we effectively help to build Yeshua’s Kingdom. And that is why it is Elohim’s will for us to live in set-apart communities.
Now, how it works is that the local servant eldership conducts evangelization and outreach to the local outside community and this attracts those who respond to the word. And then working together, they continue to evangelize and conduct outreach to the local community.
Well that is all good and they provide a rich spectrum of services to the local community, but there is also a need to tie all the assemblies together globally because this is what makes Elohim’s Kingdom. So this two-pronged approach provides for both a rich spectrum of local services and outreach, and also provides for global coordination.
Working together at the eldership level and also at the priesthood level is going to become even more important after the tribulation, after Armageddon and the ingathering, once our global headquarters is relocated to Jerusalem. Because this network is going to be part of how we are to rule and reign over the nations with Yeshua’s rod of iron. We will talk about that more in other places. But not only do the assemblies need to be linked together globally, but they also need to be ordered appropriately, both globally and especially at the local level. We know this because Yahweh tells us that he is an Elohim of order and not of disorder.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 14:33
33 For Elohim is not the author of confusion but of shalom, as in all the assemblies of the saints.[There is no way to get shalom unless we keep to His order.]
So, how do we provide this order in the assembly? Well, Elohim in knowing all things, has already provided the framework for His order through His torah. And Yeshua is speaking about this and how to apply this in the Matthew 18 Process.
Now, the specifics of how we walk out the Torah can change depending on whether we are living inside the land of Israel (under the Levitical Order), or whether we live outside the land of Israel (under the Melchizedekian Order). The specifics can change, but the principles and the precepts remain the same, both inside and outside the land of Israel, under both the Levitical and the Melchizedekian Order. And one of the principles that remains the same, both in and outside the land, is that the camp needs to remain pure. Meaning, anytime sin is encountered, it needs to be put outside the camp, so that there can be a safe environment to raise families and to keep the camp pure. That is a very important principle.
The only thing that changes between the Levitical Order and the Melchizedekian Order is the way that we put sin outside the camp. Inside the land of Israel, under the Levitical Order, sin is put outside the camp through stoning, or at least that is the rule for judges. And we will talk about that more in detail later on in this presentation. But if we are born into the nation of Israel, then Elohim holds us to this extremely high standard. Outside the land of Israel it is a slightly different story. In renewed covenant times, sin is put outside the camp through expulsion and then shunning. We will talk in more detail about what takes place outside the land of Israel in the next chapter, “Matthew 18 and Adultery: Part 3”. But for the rest of this presentation we will focus on what takes place inside the land of Israel under Levitical Order.
In the land of Israel, the rules of the Levitical torah apply. All the specifics of the Levitical torah and Scripture says quite clearly that anyone who breaks Elohim’s torah will die without mercy when there are two or more witnesses to their sin.
Ivrim (Hebrews) 10:28
28 Anyone who has rejected Moshe’s Torah dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
For example, someone who breaks Leviticus 20 and the law of sexual purity is to be put to death.
Vayiqra (Leviticus) 20:10
10 “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”
In this particular example, they are both consenting. This is the method that Deuteronomy chapter 13, verse 11 states for keeping the people from sinning against Elohim.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 13:11
11 “So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.”
One of the things that Yahweh takes extremely seriously is marital vows. We are to obey all of our words, we are supposed to keep our promises and especially our vows.
Now, outside the land of Israel, Elohim allows certain things to happen, out in the nations. But if we are going to be His people and live in His land, Elohim expects us to not partake of sin. He expects His people to keep His land pure and set-apart from corruption.
As we proceed in our study on “Matthew 18 and Adultery”, some of the things we need to understand is that it includes the four degrees of separation that takes place within the nation of Israel.
The first degree of separation is the separation between Israel and the nations. Israel was to be separated (set-apart) from all the rest of the nations. Things could go on out in the nations that were not to take place inside the camp of Israel.
The second degree of separation that takes place is that the Levites were separated from the rest of Israel. In this case, by the curtain of the tabernacle courtyard.
Then, inside the tabernacle courtyard, only the priests could go inside the tabernacle itself.
And then only the high priest could go inside the most set-apart place (the kodesh kodashim). And even then, only once a year on the day of Yom Kippur. And also not without a blood sacrifice.
These are the four degrees of separation that take place within the nation of Israel.
It is trouble to do away with Elohim’s institutions. It is trouble to do away with those things that Elohim has established. For example, in Korah’s rebellion, in Numbers chapter 16, verse three, we see what happens when we do not follow Elohim’s instructions.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 16:3
3 They gathered together against Moshe and Aharon, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is set-apart, every one of them, and Yahweh is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of Yahweh?”
[Korah tried to challenge the order that Elohim instituted. He and his men died for it.]
Yes, all the congregation was set-apart, but it is taken out of context. Yes, Yahweh was among them, but again, it is taken out of context. Basically, what is happening here is that Korah and his men are challenging the order and the institutions that Yahweh Himself has ordained. They are challenging this concept of the four different levels of separation and it was to cost them their lives.
This is extremely important when we understand what is effectively going on in the Messianic movement. Just like in Korah’s rebellion, the Messianic movement also seeks to deny Elohim’s institutions. The messianic movement also seeks to deny the four degrees of the four levels of separation. And this is something extremely important for anyone who considers him or herself to be Messianic. Consider Korah and his men. They rebelled against Yahweh’s order and His four degrees of separation (set-apartness). Very similarly, the Messianic movement denies that the book of Acts establishes certain orders and set-apartments. There are ministries out there that teach against the Five-Fold Ministry and against the apostolic organization that is given to us in the Renewed Covenant and is witnessed in the book of Acts. That does not end well.
Also, please consider how Korah justified his rebellion based on the fact that the entire nation was set-apart. Once again, that was true, but is taken completely out of context. And in like fashion, the Messianic also justify their rebellion against Elohim’s order based on the fact that everyone within the Messianic movement is set-apart. So again, it is true everyone in the Messianic movement is set-apart, but that does not change the fact that there are different degrees of separation and different institutions that Yeshua Himself instituted for this. We talk about this in the study on Torah Government and also in Acts 15 Order. If you are Messianic and you do not understand the reason that we need to be structured in apostolic fashion with the Five-fold Ministry, I urge you to read those studies. It could very well make the difference between life and death as we come into these end times, and Elohim begins to insist that we follow the order that is clearly established by His Son and by His servants in His word. It is very serious. It is not a laughing matter, but something we all need to be taking completely to heart.
If we are going to be Elohim’s people and we are going to live in His land and be provided for by Him, then we need to make sure that we obey His standards, follow His institutions, and do the things He says to do. For example, Scripture says that “the end is known from the beginning”. So let us look at the pattern in Genesis chapter 3.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 3:23-24
23 …therefore Yahweh Elohim sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
We have to do the things that Elohim says to do, hear His voice, and obey His commandments if we hope to be provided for as His special people. So once again, the land of Israel is effectively set-apart from the rest of the world. Just as the camp of Israel was to be set-apart, so also the land of Israel is to be considered set-apart. Right now, it is in the process of being further defiled. Then it will be cleansed by fire during the tribulation and Armageddon, and then Elohim expects us to keep it pure and clean after that, after He brings us back home in the ingathering. Elohim allows perversions, problems, and corruptions to happen in the other lands but not inside His land.
We see certain examples of this historically. For example, when the southern kingdom of Judah went into the Babylonian exile and then came back to the land of Israel (in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah), the people who came back to the land had to divorce (put away) their non-believing, pagan spouses. It is bad enough to be unequally yoked and to sow your field with mixed seed, so to speak. But Elohim allowed it because there is a possibility that the non-believing spouses might convert.
One instance of this is when we take a look at the book of Ruth. Ruth herself was a Moabites. She is a perfect example of someone who was born and raised as a pagan but then became so much a part of the nation of Israel, that she became the great-grandmother of King David.
The rules for this are contained in First Corinthians, chapter 7. We talk about those in a study called Covenant Relationships and we will talk about that in just a little bit.
But the thing is, these mixed marriages were not allowed to come back to the land of Israel because mixed marriage defiles the land. The act of coming back to the land is in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. And the act of coming back to land as we are going to go through after the ingathering, that is going to force a decision. There are really a lot of questions about this and we will talk to this when we talk about the Covenant Relationships study. But take a look in Ezra, chapter 10, starting in verse ten.
10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel.
11 Now therefore, make confession to Yahweh your Elohim of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.”
In Covenant Relationships, we talk about this issue, especially about First Corinthians, chapter 7. There is not a need to separate from pagan spouses outside the land of Israel, we will talk about this further in the next chapter. But inside the land of Israel, when we come back to the land of Israel after the tribulation and after the ingathering, that is when the separation is going to take place. Two very separate things that we need to keep clear. Elohim is very serious about keeping His land pure. And this applies not only to the house of Judah, but it also applies to the northern kingdom (the northern house of Ephraim, or Israel).
For example, Yahweh had a prophet named Hoshea (Hosea) whom He instructed to marry a harlot named Gomer. This was to show the northern kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) how much He loved them and how much He was continuing to be patient with them, even though they were effectively playing the harlot and turning away from Yahweh by worshiping foreign gods and setting up images on every high hill and under every green tree. So the prophecy that Yahweh gave through Hoshea was that if the house of Ephraim did not return back to Yahweh’s torah, then once again, just like in the Garden of Eden, they would have to be removed from His land. And of course, we know from history that Ephraim did not listen. And so Yahweh sent the Assyrians to come and take the Ephraimites out of the land and to send them into captivity in Assyria. Just as we see in Second Kings, chapter 17.
Melachim Bet (2 Kings) 17:22-23
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them,
23 until Yahweh removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.
We talk a lot more about that in the Nazarene Israel study. Now, this study always generates a lot of questions from a lot of people. If you are one of the ones that has questions, understand that you are not alone. We talk about this in great detail in the Covenant Relationships study, particularly in the chapter called “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage”.
We cannot answer every question that we cover in that study, but one of the things we need to see from that study is that Elohim does not allow for what we in the western Christian nations might call permanent divorce. Mostly, the cultures the western Christian nations teach permanent divorce. And that is effectively, as we explained in the study “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage”, a corruption from the rabbinic version of divorce which has taken hold in the legal systems of the west. And that is not a correct definition.
In order to understand what the correct definition for divorce is, the first thing we need to understand is that a woman is born under her father’s headship. And when a woman gets married, her headship transfers out from under her father and transfers to her new husband. And then that is where her headship stays unless her husband passes away or she remarries. And we talk about all the variations of that in the study, “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage”.
One of the keys to understanding this is that, in Scripture, a husband is supposed to love and care for His bride, just like Yahweh cares for His bride Israel. He is supposed to go to great lengths to provide for her, he is supposed to behave honorably toward her, and he is supposed to give her the very best protection and guidance that he can. A husband is supposed to love his wife as he loves his own flesh.
Now in that environment and with that being the precondition, if a woman disobeys her husband’s loving guidance and she commits adultery and is sexually immoral, then according to Scripture, she is considered to be in disobedience to her head. And then this sexual immorality allows her husband to divorce her. But it is not what we consider in the west as a permanent divorce. What we see in that study is that it is more like what we would call today legal separation. We can see this from the following two verses from Jeremiah.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 3:8
8 Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away [i.e., divorced her] and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.
Notice carefully how Yahweh is saying that he divorced the house of Israel (the house of Ephraim) and put her away. But now going to see just five verses later that Yahweh says he is still married to Ephraim.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 3:14
14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says Yahweh; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Tsion.”
If Yahweh says in verse eight that He divorced Israel (Ephraim) and gave her a certificate of divorce, and yet then says in verse fourteen that He is still married to her, then logically, divorce in Scripture does not terminate the marriage. Divorce in Scripture does not terminate a man’s headship. So, if we think about that, the only logical conclusion is that divorce is more like what we would call today to be legal separation. And the purpose of divorce (legal separation) is to put a sexually immoral wife into a hard place, leaving her no choice really but to repent of her sexual immorality. And that is given to us in lieu of stoning.
As we mentioned in an earlier section, the rules in Torah for judgment and punishment are the rules given to the judges, so that justice can be done. But the rules given to individuals was always that we should have mercy and compassion. Because as the apostle Yaakov (James) tells us mercy triumphs over judgment. But again, the only way Yahweh can divorce Israel and still be married to her is if divorce does not terminate the marriage. Because divorce does not terminate His headship, therefore divorce can only logically be a temporary putting away of the wife. And this is designed to put a sexually immoral wife in a very hard position, so that she has no choice but to repent, to accept the need to be sexually moral, faithful, and true to her husband, to obey her vows, and to obey her head.
The key to this is that Yahweh expects every man to treat his wife in the same way as He treats His bride Israel. He expects him to be devoted to her and to love her just like he loves his own flesh.
Ephesim (Ephesians) 5:23
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Messiah is the head of the assembly: and He is the Savior of the body.
This again shows us that the wife’s headship is transferred from her father to her husband at the time of her marriage. And if we will think about this, it also shows us why Yeshua said that anyone who marries a woman who has been divorced (put away) for sexual immorality commits adultery. Because it violates the headship. It short-circuits the disciplinary process, so to speak.
Mattiyahu (Matthew) 5:32
32 “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
The first portion here is that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery.
Let us say that there is a woman with a few children and her husband puts her away wrongly, and so then she has to provide for and raise her children. She is going to have a very difficult time doing that without remarrying. As we explain in the study on “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage”, the fact of remarrying does technically violate her marital vow. But because she was placed in that position and the husband was the one that put her in that jam, he has caused her to commit adultery, as Yeshua says.
In the second part, Yeshua says that whoever marries a woman who is divorced (put away) for sexual immorality also commits adultery. The reason for this is that, in Scripture, the idea is that a woman should only be put away for being sexually immoral. And the reason she is put away is because this places her in a jam and it forces her to repent. If someone else comes along and marries her and takes her out of that jam, it is effectively taking away her incentive to repent, to live up to her marriage vows, and to return back to her husband. That is something that should not be done. If a woman is correctly put away for sexual immorality, she should not be remarried. She should be forced to stay in that difficult position so that she will then repent and turn back to her husband.
And I realize that generates a lot of questions and a lot of a lot of queries on people’s parts. So again, I would encourage people to check out the study “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage”, there we explained the whole thing. There are some very hard rules. Yahweh expects extremely high standards from His people Israel. So let us consider Matthew chapter 19, verse ten.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 19:10
10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
Elohim’s rules do seem very difficult because our human fleshly needs and our emotions get involved. But Yahweh has a reason for these principles that He asks us to live up to. And what He wants a people who learn to obey all of their words, promises, and vows. Because if Yahweh’s people will do this, it will create an orderly society. If you have people who take care to do the things they say and who live up to their vows, the world will become an orderly place. And this is effectively what Elohim’s plan for after the tribulation, Armageddon, and the ingathering. The Babylonian order is going to collapse and then He is looking for a people who are going to be a city on a hill. There will be a light in a dark place and there will be a network centered once again in Jerusalem, but with representatives in each and every country showing the people of the world the way to go. This is effectively Elohim’s plan for the coming 30 or 40 years, and then through the millennium.
People always come up with questions, and one of the questions this generates is about the adulterous woman, or the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. Before we begin on this, we discussed this in more detail in “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage”, but what we need to know is this passage or this story does not exist in the oldest manuscripts. Many scholars believe that this story was added to Scripture, and it does not actually belong in Scripture. We cannot cover every question that people will have on the study on “Yahweh’s Heart in Marriage“, but this one we want to talk about because it always seems to come up.
Yochanan (John) 8:3-5
3 Then the scribes (Karaite) and Pharisees (Orthodox) brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moshe, in the Torah, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
Yochanan (John) 8:7,9a
7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
9a Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.
Of course, the moral to this story is ‘who are we to judge’, right? ‘Who are we to enforce Yahweh’s torah’? But this is not how it went in Scripture in ancient times. And also to emphasize it once again, this passage does not exist in the oldest manuscripts.
Yochanan (John) 8:10-11
10 When Yeshua had raised Himself up [and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Master.”
And Yeshua said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Many people believe that the purpose of this story is an anti-torah meaning. Because it is saying that Yeshua is saying not to apply the standards found in torah. And that is something Yeshua would not say. Yeshua did not come to negate His Father’s torah, He did not come to contradict His own Father. Yeshua was a good Son, He would not have done that. One of the problems with the story of the woman caught in adultery (or the passage in John 8) is that if it were true (which it is not), it would have Yeshua explaining away the need to keep His Father’s torah. We would have Yeshua explaining away the need to keep His Father’s commandments and we know that Yeshua did not do this.
Because at the very start of His ministry, Yeshua stated that He did not come to do away with even the least of the torah (law).
Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
And again, the story of the adulterous woman does not exist in any of the oldest manuscripts. When we realize that the story of the woman caught in adultery does not belong in Scripture, but that it was a later addition to Scripture, we see that Elohim (including Yeshua) truly does care about maintaining the sanctity of His land. He truly does care about Israelite men and women keeping their marital vows. Because this is how we become a light unto the nations, by obeying Yahweh’s torah, His moral codes, His principles, and His precepts. We need to be the kind of people who keep our vows, all of our words, and do the things that we say we are going to do.
So in summary, when we are in the land of Israel, even though Yahweh extends mercy to His people, if we want to live in Yahweh’s special land and to receive as many blessings as possible from Him, then we need to keep our words. We need to do the things we say we are going to do, obey our vows, and keep all of our promises. And the penalty for breaking our vows and breaking our words is death. Not only because Yahweh cares about the sanctity of His land, but because He is trying to train us all to be responsible as lights in the world. And because we are not so much concerned about this life but are concerned mostly with the judgment and what happens when we get to the next life. In order to get a good judgment, we have to be the kinds of people who do the things we say we are going to do and who keep and obey all of our promises and our vows.
Now outside the land of Israel, in the dispersion, the Levitical torah is not in effect. However, Elohim still expects us to obey the same level of morality and the very same principles and precepts, even though the death penalty is not an effect. That is because we are still going to be held accountable in the day of judgment for everything that we have done and everything we have failed to do.
Now that we have seen how the punishments for adultery are supposed to be walked out inside the land of Israel under the Levitical Order, please join us in the next chapter for “Matthew 18 and Adultery: Part 3“ where we see how we are supposed to walk out the Matthew 18 Process with regards to adultery, even when we are out in the nations.